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Friday, February 29, 2008

AHC Issues Decision on Remand

The Administrative Hearing Commission has issued a decision on remand in the case of licensed bondsman Donald Christian. The case began when the DIFP filed a complaint against Christian in 2006 because Christian had been convicted of a felony drug charge 1998. The AHC ruled against the department saying that the DIFP used statutes in effect in 2006 in composing the complaint, and those statutes could not be used to discipline Christian because they were not in effect at the time Christian committed the offenses. The DIFP filed for judicial review of the decision in Cole County Circuit Court. The court concluded that retrospective application of the statutes did not violate any of Christian’s rights and that the licensing agency has a vital interest in safeguarding the public’s health and welfare. The court ruled that the Director had established cause to discipline the licensee and ordered the AHC to reverse its findings and make a decision consistent with the court’s judgment. The AHC then issued a decision consistent with the court’s finding and ruled that retrospective application of the statutes is permissible and the laws in effect at the time of application or renewal control the qualification of the applicant.

Previous Coverage
Court Reverses AHC in Christian Case
DIFP Files Petition for Review in Circuit Court
AHC Rules No Cause for Discipline in Christian Case

Services Announced for Bondsman

Bondsman Daryl L. Luecke., 53, of Westphalia, Missouri, died Tuesday, February 26, 2008. Services will be held today with a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m at the St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Westphalia. In addition to writing bonds, Daryl served his community by being the Osage County Commissioner for 10 years. He also served as an Osage-Gasconade Health Department board member, Secretary for Meramec Regional Planning Commission, a substitute teacher at Fatima and area schools, had county government budget experience, a Missouri C.N.A. and C.M.T., and a care provider to the elderly.

He has been licensed since 2005 and worked under the authority of Dave Strassner.

PA-Bondsman Gets Probation in Shooting

PENNSYLVANIA-The Lancaster Intelligencer Journal reports that a bail bondsman who shot a fugitive in Lancaster was spared a prison sentence. Bondsman Dale Kauffman was sentenced to 5 years probation and ordered to stop working as a bail bondsman. Kauffman shot Moises Torres in 2006, as Torres tried to flee a home while Kauffman and another bail bondsman were in the home trying to detain him. Judge Louis J. Farina said a "deficiency in our system" allows bail bondsmen to be placed in difficult situations with dangerous criminals. "(Kauffman) was never trained," Farina said. "This points out a deficiency in our system, so I have some sympathy for your plight. We need to send a message to other bondsmen," Farina continued. "You are the first. I'm not aware of any case like this. And I want you to be the last." Kauffman pleaded guilty in December to aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Torres was unarmed when he ran from the bail bondsmen, court documents say. Kauffman fired one shot from his 40-caliber handgun, striking Torres' right leg. The bullet shattered Torres' tibia, requiring him to undergo surgery and skin grafts, court documents say.

Defense attorney Herbert M. Crystle told Farina that Torres elbowed Kauffman in the throat before fleeing the home. Kauffman is a "good man," Crystle said, "who made a bad decision in the heat of the moment."

Kauffman spoke briefly before he was sentenced. "My intent was never to hurt anybody — but to bring him in," Kauffman told Farina. "I can't (change) what did happen. I'm truly sorry I injured Mr. Torres." Crystle told Farina that Kauffman has continued to work as a bail bondsman but no longer carries a gun.

Farina acknowledged writing bail was a source of income for Kauffman, but ordered him to cease practicing. "I have serious reservations about whether a convicted felon should be serving bail pieces," Farina said. Apprehending and detaining fugitives while unarmed could place a bondsman at risk, the judge said. "We allow you to be armed when you arrest dangerous people," he said. "There are rules people in your business need to be aware of and trained for. It doesn't excuse you — but it does mitigate.” “You are a good man. But, you made a very bad mistake here and seriously hurt somebody," Farina told Kauffman. "The system doesn't work when it lets people do what you did."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Services for STL Officer

Please keep the family of Lt. Robert Cooney in your thoughts and prayers. Rob was a 20-year veteran of the St. Louis Police Department and died from a fall at his home this week. Services were held yesterday.
Rob worked a dangerous job doing high-risk search warrants and commanded the department's Mobile Reserve, K-9 and Hostage Rescue units. He received three chief's commendations and two meritorious service citations for valor during his career with the police department.

He leaves behind a wife, two young children, brothers, a sister, parents, and many other grieving friends and family. I grew up with Rob. He led an exemplary life both on and off-duty. We will miss him.

Information on memorial fund for the Cooney children
Fox News coverage

IN-Bondsman Found Guilty of Confinement

The Goshen News, of Goshen, Indiana, reports that a six-member jury returned a guilty verdict in a case of a Goshen bondsman, who was accused of confining a driver and her passenger in a traffic stop. Bart Dewald was convicted of criminal confinement, a Class D felony. Dewald was searching for a woman who was out on a bond through his agency.

The Goshen News reported that bondsman Constantine Nichols was driving a white sport utility vehicle and passed two women in a minivan, then slammed on the brakes, forcing the minivan driver to stop suddenly, too. Then Dewald drove up behind the van in a red pickup truck. The bondsmen went to the front doors of the minivan and spoke to the two women inside, asking if they knew the whereabouts of the woman the pair were searching for.

The vehicle was blocked and the two men were at either front door, blocking the women from opening their doors. But the women did not know answers to the questions posed by the bondsmen. They were stopped for five to 10 minutes, the jury was told.

One of the women testified in the trial that she felt they were free to go at any time. The other woman testified that she contacted Goshen police after the incident and was told she should file a complaint with the state Department of Insurance. The criminal case was brought against the two bondsmen after an investigation by an officer in the county prosecutor’s office.

Judge George Biddlecome set sentencing in the case next month. Dewald faces a prison term of up to three years for conviction of a Class D felony. He was allowed to remain free on bond until the sentencing hearing.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

PBUS Winter Conference 2008

PBUS (Professional Bail Agents of the United States) is holding its winter conference in Las Vegas on February 18-21 at the Luxor Hotel and Casino. Special speakers this year include news anchor Rita Cosby speaking on the power of the media and Congressman Robert Wexler. Also on the conference schedule is a presentation on national standards for apprehension, liability, and surrender. The conference also has several break-out sessions scheduled including the future of bail, special concerns of women in the industry, GPS monitoring, and a town hall discussion. There will be a vendor’s exhibit hall open throughout the conference.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Jackson's Bail License Revoked

Virgil Lee Jackson’s career in the bail industry has come to an end. The DIFP and Jackson entered into a consent agreement to revoke Jackson’s license. Late in 2005, the department filed a complaint against Jackson after he was arrested for conspiring to murder his competitor, Jerry Cox. In November 2007, Jackson was sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison after he entered a plea of guilty to the murder for hire charge. Jackson signed the consent agreement which states that he has permanently surrendered his license. The DIFP agreed to dismiss the disciplinary complaint pending before the Administrative Hearing Commission.

My previous Posts
Lee Jackson held on federal charges 4/1/2006
Dotson Arrested/New Charges for Jackson 6/2/2006
Dotson/Jackson trial postponed 6/8/2006
Arraignment 6/13/2006
Trial postponed again 10/28/2006
Dotson Freed on Bond 11/15/2006
Jackson Accused of Another Murder Plot 11/22/2006
January Trial Date Postponed 1/22/2007
March Date Postponed 3/19/2007
Jackson Pleads Guilty 8/13/2007
Dotson Faces New charges 8/27/2007
Jackson Sentenced 11/1/2007

*Accused co-conspirator Glen Dostson is scheduled to go to jury trial on March 3rd. Dotson's bail license expired last November. There are no published disciplinary actions or complaints against Dotson's license at this time.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Charges Against Avett Dismissed

All charges against Randall Avett in St. Louis County have been dismissed. On August 10th, Avett was charged with forcible rape, forcible sodomy, unlawful use of a weapon, and felonious restraint. Avett had been held in the St. Louis County jail with a $150,000 cash only bond. All charges were dismissed last Thursday.

Avett still faces charges in Jefferson County related to a fugitive recovery incident. Jefferson County Prosecutor’s office filed charges against three Missouri licensed bail bond agents and two other men. According to casenet, charges were filed against bondsmen Steven Morgan, Randall Avett, and Thaddeus Bibb. The prosecutor’s office charged the men with burglary, armed criminal action, felonious restraint, and property damage. The two unlicensed men, Brandon Morgan and Rudulph Whiston, were also charged on related offenses. The prosecutor alleges the men forced entry at a residence where they believed the fugitive to be staying. The fugitive was not at the residence and the residents denied knowing the suspect. The police were summoned by the residents and charges resulted three months after the incident.

Avett's bail bond license expired while he was in St. Louis County custody. As of today, his license has not been renewed. According to the DIFP website, there are no disciplinary complaints or actions against Avett's license.

Previous coverage
KSDK on St. Louis County Case
KSDK on Jeff County Case
Previous Post on St. Louis County Case
Previous Post on Jeff County Case

Boone County Bond Making Headlines Again

A $750,000 bond posted in Boone County for defendant Kristopher Prince, who is charged with 2nd degree murder, is making headlines again in the Columbia Daily Tribune. In September, McBee Bail Bonds posted the bond for Prince, who had been in custody for five months. The day after Prince made bond the prosecutor alleged that he had jailhouse recordings indicating that Prince may attack witnesses to the shooting. Additionally, Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight said that after learning of Prince’s release from jail, he called the circuit clerk’s office and learned McBee’s agency didn’t have enough collateral to insure the $750,000 bond, with the family assets listed as $657,000. Prince’s bond was increased to $1,000,000 cash only and a capias warrant was issued. Prince was re-arrested the same day.

The Prince family and McBee Bail Bonds are now disputing the bail bonding agreement after Prince was re-arrested and his bond was raised to $1 million cash-only. The family filed a consumer complaint with the DIFP. The Tribune reported that the DIFP is investigating Arlie Nole Sr.’s bail bonding license and his work on the Prince case. The bond was posted by Stacy Nole, a 36-year-old bail bonding agent for McBee Bail Bonds. But the Prince family told the Tribune that they actually worked with Nole’s ex-husband, Arlie D. Nole Sr. Arlie Nole was not licensed at the time of the transaction. His bail license expired in January 2007 and was not renewed until October. Arlie Nole denies his involvement in the transaction. According to the Tribune, an investigative hearing will be conducted next Wednesday.

Knight also said that in light of the Prince bond, which he believes to be the largest ever posted in the county, his office would now be making more recommendations for cash-only bonds when dealing with suspects accused of violent crimes.

The 13th Judicial Circuit has since issued an order regarding the posting of bonds: "The Circuit Clerk should be contacted before a surety bond in excess of $250,000 is accepted. The Court may require additional collateral on any bond when it appears from the information available to the Court that the surety is without sufficient assets to cover the bond requested and all outstanding bonds for which the surety is liable."

Columbia Tribune Coverage
Murder Case Subject of Bail Squabble 1/24/2008
Murder Case Leads to New Bond Rules 2/6/2008

Previous Posts
High Bond Causes Dispute 1/25/2008
13th Circuit Issues Order on Bonds 1/6/2008

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bondsman Charged with Bribery

General bondsman Gary Darby, of Warrenton, has been arrested in Warren County with a felony charge of bribing a public servant in violation of RSMO 576.010. The probable cause statement alleges that Darby attempted to bribe a corrections officer by offering the county official money while conducting bail bond business at the jail. A court date has been set for February 25th.

Darby has been a general agent since May 2007. He has also held a bail bond agent license since 2003. Darby has 10 agents working under his authority.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Times Article Examines US Bail System

The New York Times published an article about bail system in the US. It is part of a series which also examines juveniles serving life sentences and accomplices in murders serving as much time as the murderer. The article examines the uniqueness of the US system and evaluates how the system works.

Be sure to view this graphic from the US Department of Justice showing that surety release results in fewer failure to appears and also fewer fugitives remain at large as compared to other forms of release.

USDOJ-full report

Licenses Revoked in Residency Case

The DIFP has ordered license revocation for Ulis Vickers, Kristin Vickers, and U&K Investments, Inc. The department adopted the ruling of the AHC, who ruled that the Vickers and their company had committed misrepresentation to the DIFP when they claimed on their licensing applications to be residents of Missouri when they were residents of Kansas.

Timeline of the case:

DIFP files Complaint with AHC-January 5, 2007
AHC Hearing Held 8/13/2007
AHC Orders Cause to Discipline 10/3/2007
DIFP Disciplinary Hearing 1/16/2008
DIFP Orders Revocation 1/17/2008